Laptop gamers salivating over Nvidia's Maxwell-based graphics cards like the GTX 970 and 980 may not have to ditch their existing rig to get the hottest new graphics processors, as is usually the case. PC maker Eurocom recently debuted GPU upgrade kits for select Alienware and Clevo-designed gaming laptops that let you ditch your GPU from yesteryear and swap in a newer model for better pixel-pushing prowess.
The upgrade kits work with MXM (Mobile PCI Express Module) 3.0b-based GPUs, a standard graphics interface that was designed with upgrades in mind. With Eurocom's kits you can, for example, upgrade an Alienware 17 (R5) laptop from a GTX 700-series graphics processor to a GTX 980M.
It won't necessarily be cheap, however, with upgrade kits retailing between $300 and $1,000 depending on the model. Still, even the $1,000 upgrade to the GTX 980M is a cheaper option than getting a new Alienware 17 laptop with the same GPU--pricing for the base model starts at $2,250.
Why this matters: Portability is the big draw of a gaming notebook. But like any other laptop, gaming notebooks can be a pain to upgrade short of simply adding RAM or swapping out a hard drive for an SSD. Eurocom's new kits let on-the-go gamers swap out the beating heart of any gaming PC--the graphics processor. But these kits still aren't for the faint of heart since they cost big bucks and require you to delve into the very guts of your high-priced laptop.
The full service option
Each kit comes with everything you need to swap out your GPU, including thermal paste and pads, X brackets with matching screws, and heat sinks where necessary.
If that already sounds too intimidating, Eurocom is also offering what it calls a tune-up upgrade. Anyone based in North America can send in their laptop to Eurocom and the company will upgrade the GPU for you as well as do some basic maintenance on the system. Pricing for the tune-up package includes shipping both ways and the cost of the graphics card itself. The tune-up option didn't appear on the company's website at this writing so you may have to call to get more details.
If you're just looking for the standard upgrade kit, however, they are available now from Eurocom's online store.